Henchmen

Movie review by
Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media
Henchmen Movie Poster Image
Animated supervillain tale has lots of violence, potty humor
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 82 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Bad guys always lose. Friends can take the place of absent family. Anger and narcissism bring problems.

Positive Role Models

Despite his menial professional position, Hank is a hero to his friends. He shows them kindness and care, and they return the favor when they have the chance. Hank looks out for Luther, an orphan in need of some paternal guidance and care. Luther learns that being a supervillain, or a hero for that matter, ultimately isn't as important to him as feeling he belongs to a family. Some stereotypes.

Violence & Scariness

Cartoon violence involves characters exploding, getting shot at, getting turned into zombies, crashing, catching on fire, falling, fighting, and more. Weapons and lasers shoot missiles, fire, and cheese. A cruel mastermind wants to shoot up a school bus, but even his minions say that's crossing a line. On that school bus, kids tease and throw something at one boy's head. Characters talk often about death, dying, and killing.

Sexy Stuff

Male characters flirt, often clumsily, with female characters. One female character dresses up as a robot to seductively distract male robots.

Language

Taunts and insults range from "stupid" and "lame" to "buffoon," "loser," "failure," and "idiot." Also: "doo-doo," "shut up" "butt," and "oh my God." An obese character, standing in a vat of cheese, burps uncontrollably. Another character jokes, "Who cut the cheese?"

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adult characters meet regularly at a bar and drink what looks like beer out of mugs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there's quite a lot of cartoon violence in Henchmen, including a scene within the first few minutes of an evil mastermind proposing to blow up a school bus full of kids. His minions talk him out of it. The same mastermind plots to kill other characters during the film, and he wields a laser that turns men into zombies. Characters explode, get shot at, crash, catch on fire, fall, fight, and more. Weapons and lasers shoot missiles, fire, and cheese. There's lots of talk of death, dying, and killing, but language is otherwise limited to potty talk like "butt" and "doo-doo," and taunts like "stupid," "lame," "buffoon," "loser," "failure," "shut up," and "idiot." There's burping, vomiting, and "who cut the cheese" jokes, as well as some mild flirtation between adult male and female characters and a couple of bar scenes with adults drinking what looks like beer. Behind all the action is a story of an orphaned teen who dreams of being a supervillain, but really just needs a family. He learns from an adult man who looks out for him that family and friends are more important than power or fame.

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What's the story?

Luther (Thomas Middleditch) is a young boy fascinated with comics who wonders why the bad guys never win in HENCHMEN. Flash forward several years, and teenage Luther has the opportunity to make his dreams come true by joining the Union of Evil and moving to Supervillain City. As an orphan, he doesn't have to worry about leaving family behind. Janitor Hank (James Marsden) is assigned to supervise Luther. The two begin to grow close, especially when they find they must join forces to combat evil supervillain Baron Blackout (Alfred Molina). To do so, they'll need to rely on each other and get help from their friends, including a female scientist (Rosario Dawson) Hank has his eye on.

Is it any good?

By prioritizing action over story, the makers of this movie miss an opportunity to better exploit the acting chops of Molina, Dawson, Marsden, Jane Krakowski, and others in its stellar voice cast. Instead, the muddled and largely uninteresting tale relies on fast-paced violence, potty jokes, and some awkward interludes of rock music. Viewers who might appreciate the humor, bodily functions, and flimsily-stereotyped superheroes are probably too young for its violence. The characters begin to interact in a more meaningful way toward the end, but it's too little too late. If you really wanted to search deeper, you might interpret in Luther's superpower suit a subtext about humans being prisoners of our own emotions. But it's unlikely Henchmen will inspire such reflection.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Luther's dream of becoming a supervillain in Henchmen. Is it true that bad guys never win? Should they?

  • What did you think of Supervillain City? Did it look like any animated locations in other movies you've seen?

  • The superpower suit Luther stumbles into is emotionally responsive. What did you think of this idea? Can you think of other movie characters who have trouble harnessing the powers of their suit, or who have no powers without their suit?

  • If you found a dream-fulfilling "what-if-ium," like the one depicted in the movie, what would you ask it for?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love superheroes

Themes & Topics

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